A case study of Olympic, World and Commonwealth sculling champion, Peter Antonie

  • Robin Poke

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This thesis is a biographical case study of Olympic, World and Commonwealth sculling champion Peter Antonie, whose career at the elite or high performance level spanned some 23 years - from 1977 to 2000. The thesis examines the exploits of an oarsman and sculler regarded within his sport as one of Australia's greatest ever, despite his being considered physically disadvantaged at every phase of his career. Antonie was, most notably, a man of small stature - widely considered a handicap at the level of rowing to which he aspired, and at which he ultimately succeeded. The study also examines what it was, despite those perceived disadvantages, that drove him to excel. The thesis further examines, in thematic form, parallel developments within Australian rowing and sculling in the quarter of a century in which Peter Antonie competed. This was a period during which fundamental changes were seen in Australian sport, notably in the areas of funding and administration, and which saw a transformation from amateur to professional participation at the Olympic, Commonwealth Games and world championships levels. There were also marked changes to high performance rowing as a result of technological advances that produced new types of equipment, and scientific developments that brought new training and selection methodologies. The research was carried out as part of a systematic attempt to examine and investigate Peter Antonie's reputation, particularly as it compares with his better-known contemporaries, the so-called Oarsome Foursome, and to analyse that reputation in light of the administrative developments in Australian rowing and Australian sport. The historical approach used was the biographical method of research and analysis, with the preferred technique the obtaining of oral testimony from 50 interviewees, some of whom were interviewed more than once. The research clearly indicated that throughout his career Peter Antonie continually defied assumptions about his potential, particularly where science-based preconceptions about talent identification were concerned, and achieved success far beyond initial expectations. As a result his achievements, nationally and globally, are perhaps unparalleled, and he is held in the highest regard, particularly by the higher profile Oarsome Foursome. Despite this accolade, however, Antonie's public profile remains very low, to the extent that beyond the rowing fraternity he is virtually unknown. Despite, too, rowing's status as an Olympic sport and the commensurate increases in funding during Antonie's career, he himself maintains a fundamentally amateur approach to his participation in rowing and is critical of several facets of its current 'professional' administration. Despite, too, rowing and sculling once being among Australia's major sports a hundred or so years ago, within contemporary Australian society it has a low profile, a situation which, given that current administration, appears likely to continue. Problems encountered during the research included some diffidence on the part of an essentially humble and self-effacing subject and a lack of literature relating to Antonie and his sport. But these were to an extent offset by the enthusiasm displayed for the project by other interviewees. The results of the research are significant in that, like the subject, they defy some precepts concerning facets of Australian rowing and sculling, which in turn might encourage further investigation.
    Date of Award2006
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDaryl ADAIR (Supervisor) & John Dodd (Supervisor)

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